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Super Bowl Sunday And The ACC - A Fading Tradition

It was fun while it lasted

University of Maryland vs North Carolina State University
College Basketball: North Carolina State David Thompson (44) in action, shoots vs Maryland at Cole Field House. College Park, MD 1/14/1973
Set Number: X17395 TK1

The link is fading, fading, like the intercepted Ham radio connection between son and long-dead father briefly, achingly conversing across decades during a solar storm in the 2000 film “Frequency”.

Sadly, for the third consecutive year a less ethereal connection has been broken between a featured ACC men’s basketball game and the playing of the NFL’s Super Bowl. But there remains an ACC link of sorts. Super Bowl LVII will be played on Feb. 12, Pitt coach Jeff Capel’s XLVIII birthday.

Also, tangential to a sports theme yet still worthy of mention, February 12 is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Born in Kentucky in 1809, the 6-4 president never played basketball, which was not invented during his lifetime. When he was murdered by John Booth, the worst of sore losers, Lincoln was younger than 5 current ACC coaches.

Capel is among four ACC men’s head basketball coaches younger than the Super Bowl, which debuted a half-century ago. A front runner for ACC Coach of the Year along with Clemson’s Brad Brownell, Capel was born in North Carolina in 1975, the first year Chuck Noll’s Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl. BC’s Earl Grant entered this world in 1976, Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner in 1977. Duke’s Jon Scheyer, the league’s youngest head coach, didn’t arrive on the scene until 1987.

Pitt’s Capel twice played for Duke on Super Sundays, splitting with Maryland as an upperclassman in 1996 and 1997. NFC teams followed with wins both times.

This year’s Super Bowl will be played in Glendale, Arizona, at State Farm Stadium, formerly University of Phoenix Stadium and home of the Fiesta Bowl. The Kansas City Chiefs last won a Super Bowl in 2020, their second title, defeating San Francisco the same day the ACC’s Pitt Panthers topped the Miami Hurricanes. Philadelphia, the other 2023 contestant, won in 2018, defeating New England. On a happier note for regional sensibilities, Boston College topped Georgia Tech in overtime in ACC action in ‘18.

Now that the NFL season has been extended to 17 games, and the Super Bowl isn’t played until mid-February, TV has adjusted its college basketball schedule. Last season was the first since 1991 that the year’s initial Duke-North Carolina clash — an unofficial, dependable ratings winner and national season tipoff — was broadcast prior to the Super Bowl rather than afterward. This year is the second early February blue-on-blue matchup.

Meanwhile the ACC has chosen to forgo its once-prominent Super Bowl tie, whose historic nature received scant attention anyway from the conference, its TV water-carriers, other media, and sponsors. Just another example of ACC traditions fading fast, along with the demise of the round-robin and the move of league headquarters to Charlotte from Greensboro. The postseason ACC Tournament continues but in an elongated, five-day version, this year returning to Greensboro for the 29th time.

This is the seventh Super Bowl not preceded by an ACC game, including the past three.

The ACC’s bond with the Super Bowl dates to January 1973. That year two great ACC teams met first: undefeated and second-ranked NC State led by David Thompson and Tom Burleson, which edged a No. 3 Maryland team spearheaded by Tom McMillen, John Lucas and Len Elmore, 87-85. Thompson, the ACC’s greatest player to date, tipped in a miss at the buzzer to seal the outcome in a rare national college telecast in that pre-dunk, pre-cable era.

When contemporary college players artfully set up big men for lob-dunks, recall the still-electrifying move started with the 6-4 Thompson, the three-time ACC player of the year (1973-75), soaring for a feed by guard Monte Towe.

Given the formidable stature of the opponent, the Wolfpack’s win at Maryland also marked a crucial step in maintaining the second and last unblemished season record in conference history. On probation in 1972-73, NC State was banned from amplifying its 27-0 mark in postseason play. Previously UNC turned in a 32-0 record in winning the 1957 NCAA championship.

The ‘73 ACC contest brimmed with drama, in sharp contrast to the lackluster 14-7 Super Bowl VII that followed. The Miami Dolphins won handily despite a deceptive 14-7 final score, concluding the only undefeated NFL season (17-0) since the 1967 advent of the Game Of Multimillion Dollar Commercials.

Washington, now the Commanders (Commies?), remains among 8 competitors that failed to score in double digits in the first LIV Super Bowls.

Back on the collegiate side NC State, at 10-5, remains the most successful and prolific ACC team playing in tandem with the Largest Halftime Show on Earth. That despite not appearing as a Super accouterment since 2008.

BC’s 2018 inclusion in the day’s warmup game reduced to four the number of former Big East teams that have yet to participate as ACC members in Super Festivities (Louisville, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Virginia Tech). Louisville played on the golden day in 1989 as a Metro Conference member.

The Cards, with senior captains Pervis Ellison and Kenny Payne, now the Cardinals’ first-year coach, played in concert with the ’89 Super Bowl and beat UNLV by 18. Scheyer and the Blue Devils lost to FSU by a point in 2007 prior to the Super Bowl, then beat Virginia by 25 in 2009.

NC State participated in five of the ACC’s Super Hors d’Oeuvre encounters. The Wolfpack won in ’73 and ’93, lost in 1977, 1980 and 1987.

ACC Records When Playing Same Day As Super Bowl
Team W-L W Pct.
Boston College 1-0 1.000
Clemson 1-3 .250
Duke 4-3 .571
Florida State 5-5 .500
Georgia Tech 3-7 .300
Louisville* 0-1 .000
Maryland$ 5-6 .455
Miami 2-2 .500
North Carolina 9-5 .643
NC State 10-5 .667
Notre Dame 0-0 .000
Pittsburgh 1-1 .500
Syracuse 0-0 .000
Virginia 5-4 .556
Virginia Tech 0-0 .000
Wake Forest 3-7 .300
* Prior to ACC arrival.
$ Prior to ACC departure.
Date Super Bowl Result Basketball Result
2/12/23 Kansas City-Philadelphia NO ACC ACTION
2/13/22 LA Rams 23-Cincinnati 20 NO ACC ACTION
2/7/21 Tampa Bay 31-Kansas City 9 NO ACC ACTION
2/2/20 Kansas City 31-San Francisco20 Pittsburgh 62-Miami 57
2/3/19 New England 13-LA Rams 3 Clemson 64-Wake Forest 37
2/4/18 Philadelphia 41-New England 33 Boston College 80-Georgia Tech 72 (OT)
2/5/17 New England 34-Atlanta 28 Florida State 109-Clemson 61
2/7/16 Denver 24-Carolina 10 Miami 75-Georgia Tech 68
2/1/15 New England 28-Seattle 24 Florida State 55-Miami 54
2/2/14 Seattle 43-Denver 8 Virginia 48-Pittsburgh 45
2/3/13 Baltimore 34- San Francisco 31 Georgia Tech 66-Virginia 60
2/5/12 N.Y. Giants 21-New England 17 Miami 78-Duke 74 (OT)
2/6/11 Green Bay 31-Pittsburgh 25 North Carolina 89-Florida State 69
2/7/10 New Orleans 31-Indianapolis 17 Maryland 92-North Carolina 71
2/1/09 Pittsburgh 27-Arizona 23 Duke 79-Virginia 54
2/3/08 N.Y. Giants 17-New England 14 NC State 67-Wake Forest 65
North Carolina 84-Florida State 73 (OT)
2/4/07 Indianapolis 29-Chicago 17 Florida State 68-Duke 67
2/5/06 Pittsburgh 21-Seattle 10 NC State 62-Maryland 58
2/6/05 New England 24-Philadelphia 21 North Carolina 81-Florida State 60
2/1/04 New England 32-Carolina 29 NC State 81-Maryland 69
Florida State 88-Savannah State 73
1/26/03 Tampa Bay 48-Oakland 21 Wake Forest 71-Florida State 60
NC State 86-North Carolina 77
2/3/02 New England 20-St. Louis Rams 17 Maryland 89-NC State 73
Missouri 81-Virginia 77
1/28/01 Baltimore 34-N.Y. Giants 7 North Carolina 60-NC State 52
1/30/00 St. Louis Rams 23-Tennessee 16 Virginia 76-Wake Forest 67
1/31/99 Denver 34-Atlanta 19 Wake Forest 85-Maryland 72
1/25/98 Denver 31-Green Bay 24 Wake Forest 74-Missouri 65
NC State 56-Georgia Tech 51
1/26/97 Green Bay 35-New England 21 North Carolina 61-Clemson 48
Maryland 74-Duke 70
Duke 83-Maryland 73
1/28/96 Dallas 27-Pittsburgh 17 Duke 83-Maryland 73
Connecticut 76-Virginia 46
1/29/95 San Francisco 49-San Diego 26 Georgia Tech 81-Florida State 68
1/30/94 Dallas 30-Buffalo 13 North Carolina 85-Wake Forest 61
1/31/93 Dallas 52-Buffalo 17 NC State 72-Clemson 70
Florida State 96-Georgia Tech 77
1/26/92 Washington 37-Buffalo 24 NO ACC ACTION
1/27/91 N.Y. Giants 20-Buffalo 19 Georgia Tech 88-North Carolina 86
1/28/90 San Francisco 55-Denver 10 Virginia 71-Wake Forest 70 (OT)
Duke 88-Georgia Tech 86
1/22/89 San Fran 20-Cincinnati 16 Illinois 103-Georgia Tech 92 (2OT)
1/31/88 Washington 42-Denver 20 NC State 71-DePaul 66
1/25/87 N.Y. Giants 39-Denver 20 Kansas 74-NC State 60
1/26/86 Chicago 46-New England 10 North Carolina 73-Notre Dame 61
1/20/85 San Francisco 38-Miami 16 NO ACC ACTION
1/22/84 L.A. Raiders 38-Washington 9 NO ACC ACTION
1/30/83 Washington 27-Miami 17 Arkansas 68-Wake Forest 65
1/24/82 San Francisco 26-Cincinnati 21 Virginia 74-Louisville 56
1/25/81 Oakland 27-Philadelphia 10 Virginia 89-Ohio State 73
1/20/80 Pittsburgh 31-LA Rams 19 Maryland 92-North Carolina 86
1/21/79 Pittsburgh 35-Dallas 31 Duke 75-NC State 69
1/15/78 Dallas 27-Denver 10 North Carolina 71-Wake Forest 69
1/9/77 Oakland 32-Minnesota 14 Maryland 87-NC State 80
1/18/76 Pittsburgh 21-Dallas 17 NC State 68-North Carolina 67
1/12/75 Pittsburgh 16-Minnesota 6 NO ACC ACTION
1/13/74 Miami 24-Minnesota 7 NC State 80-Maryland 74
1/14/73 Miami 14-Washington 7 NC State 87-Maryland 85